Sanctuary preparedness for natural disasters
This year, we’re seeing historic weather extremes. Not surprisingly, the natural disasters that have resulted all over the country have been grabbing headlines. From fires in the West to flooding in the Midwest to storms in the South, zoos and sanctuaries are dealing with emergency evacuations, temporary housing, and security issues, trying to safeguard their animals and the public.
At The Wildcat Sanctuary, we have protocol to address emergency situations we hope never to face. Being prepared for the unexpected is crucial for a Sanctuary like ours.
We always have a minimum of one trained staff person and four interns onsite every night. With video surveillance throughout the property, they are able to monitor the animals and the grounds at all times. Each human and animal building is equipped with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. An emergency communications system is accessible throughout the entire Sanctuary.
Should we receive any weather warnings, our protocol requires that cats be locked safely inside their secure concrete and steel buildings. The operant conditioning we practice daily, rewarding the animals for shifting and going into crates, is what makes this process as quick and efficient as possible.
All big cat habitats are surrounded by a 12-foot high perimeter cyclone fence with 2-foot recurve. Outside of that, the entire Sanctuary is fenced with an additional 8-foot fence as a secondary barrier.
The animal enclosures, habitats, and buildings throughout the property are all inspected to assure nothing is compromised, even more so during storms. We have equipment onsite for evacuating animals in affected areas of our Sanctuary. If the worst case scenario should ever happen, our onsite staff is trained in immobilization and lethal force. Though it’s not something we would ever want to do, it is a reality we must be trained for in order to protect the safety of other animals and our community. In addition, we have an extended Emergency Response Team of community members which includes an EMT, certified fire arms instructor and a dog tracking team.
Our staff conducts disaster and emergency drills on a quarterly basis since nothing prepares you more than facing these situations firsthand. As we have in the past, we will always be vigilant about our protocol in order to assure the continued safety of our animals and our community. What we’ve seen happening this year in other areas of the country has strengthened our resolve.